Saturday, 19 January 2008

Considered randomness

Thicket, Wiltshire, December 2007

Following on from the discussion at the Landscapist about apparently random photography, I've been looking at (and comparing) quite a number of landscape photographs. I've been looking at the distinctions between the traditionally composed images, especially "Grand Scenic", and more intimate work. Some of the latter has a distinctly composed feel, some has that air of randomness.

What this came to was thought on what made the seemingly random into good photography (there's also a lot of really random rubbish). For me it came down to a balance of elements with no distractions. let me explain. Often when I look at photographs, my own included, I see distracting elements, especially around the edges that draw the eye away from the subject. Removal of these is central to my cropping philosophy. The good shots have an even balance. there is also, though, a distribution of large and small elements, lines that lead this way and that and a depth to the subjects that passes beyond mere foreground-background or careful layers.

This balance of elements - the lack of distraction, the large and small and a sense of depth - are then, for me, the things that make the seemingly random into good photography. Of course, to produce such work consistently (I'm ignoring the luck shot) requires a good eye for detail and careful though about composition. Just like any other good photography.

This working of these elements into good images is what I have dubbed "considered randomness". It is, for me, one of the strongest yet hardest to create forms of photography.


  1. It's hard because the engineer in you makes it so, I have the same problem! My wife had absolutely no problem including valuable random content in her pictures, but I'm not sure she considers it, rather it's just a response to her surroundings at the time. It's most frustrating.

  2. I hadn't thought of it that way. However, isn't your wife response still considered response if she decides it is worth picturing? I think considered randomness can be as much about an instinctive response to the surroundings as a length study in composition (maybe more so).

  3. Your right of course, the point I would make is that she doesn't "get all analytical" as she puts it. It's more of an instinctive "arty" approach, whatever that means. Probably not the best words, but I'm sure you know what I am trying to convey!


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